The Way I Blog :: Truly Myrtle ::

Sunday, 27 September 2015

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Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you are all having a great weekend! As you can see I decided to blog regularly from now on, but I am still trying to find the right balance between crafting, blogging and of course my life. I have also often questioned the way I am/was blogging, and interact here. And as always when it comes to learning, I ask people I admire to tell me more about their experience. Libby will kindly be sharing 'the way she blogs' today (she also has a newsletter, a podcast, very active IG and facebook accounts... and 4 children - I mean whoah!). It is really instructive, and there are definitely points I will take on board for my own blog! Thanks so much Libby!

Hello everyone! Thanks for inviting me over Nat! I'm really happy to be here and to chat to you all about blogging.

WHO'S TRULY MYRTLE?

I'm Libby aka Truly Myrtle. These days I design knitting patterns and chat about my patterns on my blog but for a long time Truly Myrtle was an on-line space where I simply enjoyed sharing all my creative adventures. I chatted about knitting, sewing and spinning and generally had a ball.








Truly Myrtle started in 2012, a couple of years after I started following a bunch of craft and knitting bloggers. I felt so inspired reading about other people's projects and over time found myself wanting to take part and start a blog of my own. I was terribly nervous writing those first posts. Would anyone read them? Did I really have anything interesting to say? I tried not to let nerves stop me though - I grabbed my little digital camera and dove straight in taking lots of photos and putting together posts for my imaginary readers! I tried to tell a story or teach a lesson in most of my posts and that wasn't too hard because I am always trying new things and learning new stuff. For a long time my husband checked all my spelling and grammar before I pushed "publish" (he still checks my newsletters!) It's amazing the little mistakes that are easily missed and an error free post is much nicer to read.

I can't believe I've been blogging for nearly four years, it's been super exciting to see Truly Myrtle evolve into something. I didn't anticipate how a blog would connect me with so many fabulous people and I love the community that's grown around Truly Myrtle. I never imagined how much I'd learn (like how to write basic computer code!) and my creativity has been pushed and stretched, which has been super exciting.

I haven't ever had a hard and fast rule about how often to blog although mostly I have tried to post at least once a week. In general the frequency of my posts has tended to vary depending on what else is going on in my life. I've had times when I've had so much to say that I've posted three or more times in a week and others where weeks have gone by without a peep. A couple of times I've played with the idea of using just photographs for posts - once when we were having a "staycation" and again when we moved from the UK to live in New Zealand. I do make sure I label each of my posts so that it's quick to find them again. For example, I tag each of my podcast posts "podcast" so that I can link to them easily in my menu.


MY PROCESS

Photos are the foundation of all my posts. Over the last couple of years I've become more and more interested in photography so that now I can't really begin writing until I've taken some photos. A year or so in I decided that I wanted to shoot better photos so bought a DSLR and took a photography night class. Both really helped (along with a whole lot of practice).

The process of gathering my bits and pieces to illustrate my post, styling them and taking pictures sets my imagination whirling and it's during that time I get a feel of exactly what I want to write and where my post is going. When I'm writing a longer article (I publish a monthly "mini-mag" newsletter) I spend a bit of time researching - but then it's still always photographs before words!

All of Libby's patterns are available here
I wish I could tell you that I am a master at editing my photos but quite frankly I'm not. I import all my photos onto my Mac Laptop and use the very basic software in the photo programme to crop and adjust them. I try to take photos that need very little editing so that I'm not stuck later. For buttons and photos including text I use the free service PicMonkey. It's super easy to manage and does everything I need it to.

I'm very conscious these days of readers being overwhelmed with information and you hear a lot that blogs are dying in favour of short, quippy media like Facebook and Instagram. I've always tried to keep my posts a reasonable length. Partly, because I have only a limited amount of time available to write them and also because I know people are busy. Having said that my posts do vary depending on my mood and what I'm sharing! I don't have a particular format that I follow when I'm writing but usually I pop a picture in first.

BLOGGING GOODIES

I've learnt a lot through blogging - a lot about the process of blogging but also a lot about me.

Here are my top tips for getting started and writing a blog:

  • Just start. Don't think about it too hard, just dive in and post something. It doesn't have to be perfect! It takes a while to find your "voice" so it's good to experiment and take risks.
  • Be you. I can't stress this enough. It'll be easier to keep blogging if you are true to yourself and not second-guessing what people might want. People often tell me when I meet them that I'm just the same in real life. It's true! I can only be me.
  • Don't worry too hard about what to write about. Look around you, the best topics are often right under your nose. Keep it simple and narrow your focus. I find it works best when I limit my posts to just one or two ideas.
  • Tell a story. I love a good story and so will your readers. Especially a story that develops over several posts. I think you can turn almost anything into a good story. Remember the details, elaborate with pictures and enjoy yourself.
  • Talk to your readers - both in your posts and in real life. Reply to them, ask them questions. Get to know them. It's exciting watching a community grow around you.
  • Don't look at the numbers. Most likely they'll only depress you! I've only just installed google analytics - don't fret over how many people are reading your blog. Celebrate engaged readers that never miss a post and leave you lots of great feedback rather than getting thousands of readers that only dip in once.
  • Meet other bloggers. This is super fun. Once you start blogging you're already part of a great community and people are mostly really friendly and welcoming. Visit other blogs and leave comments. You know how good that feels! If you want to collaborate with someone, take a risk and email them. You'll be surprised how many people you'll end up calling friends even though you've never met.

BALANCE

I've been doing a lot of knitwear design over the last year and the way I blog has changed a little as I've gotten busier. I tend to schedule posts in advance and pre-plan posts, especially when I'm releasing a new pattern for example. I've been thinking a lot lately about how my blog will evolve as my business grows and what's the best way to promote Truly Myrtle Designs. While I have started a podcast and a newsletter and those are going well, I'm also working on some exciting plans for my blog for the next year. There are so many interesting topics that grow out of knitting design - yarn choices, caring for knitted garments, sourcing great yarn, talking to other people in the industry, know how and tutorials. But many of my readers have been with me since the beginning and they enjoy hearing about the sewing, spinning and jewellery making I do, so I intend to make space for them too.

The thing I really love about blogging is that I'm the boss. Truly Myrtle is my space on the internet and I can experiment and play around there as much as I like. It's very fun.



Libby is wearing one of her latest designs - the Koru hat - which I intend to knit very soon.
Libby aka Truly Myrtle, is a knitting pattern designer living in rural New Zealand with her husband, four children, a big vege garden, a gaggle of chickens, a flock of sheep and a puppy.
She designs modern knitting patterns that are clear & easy to follow and a pleasure to knit and wear.
Join in the fun and explore the Truly Myrtle blog at www.trulymyrtle.com to find out about Libby's patterns, free tutorials, knit alongs 
and more crafty fun! 

7 comments:

  1. This was a great read. I think I practice a lot of what she says. I think interaction is important with readers. It's very hard tho when we can't reply to comments because people are 'no reply' . It happens a lot : (
    Happy knitting to you both!

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  2. Wow, she managed to do all that on top of having 4 kids, a big garden, chicken, sheeps and a puppy? Very inspirational indeed!

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  3. Blogging certainly takes up time, but it's worth it. Thanks for the tips.

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  4. Great read, and wow, talk about productivity! Some super lessons here.

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  5. some great tips and points.. thanks for sharing..

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  6. a great interview! I so agree with her desire to start with photography, because that's the part I struggle with the most- getting great photos. I've had to put off blog posts because I didn't get the sort of shots I wanted, or had to make do with shots that were less than what I had hoped for. Truly Myrtle is a beautiful blog!

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